President Obama’s first antidrug strategy sets a goal of reducing youth drug use by 15 percent within five years, and it asserts a commitment to “community-oriented” prevention programs and early drug-abuse screening by health-care providers, Newsweek reports. Release of the plan had been scheduled for March, but has been delayed. Even some administration officials say achieving these goals is unlikely given the budget’s modest prevention increases. “We are missing an opportunity,” says Kerlikowske’s chief deputy, A. Thomas McLellan, who is resigning after less than a year on the job.
Appearing before a House subcommittee, Kerlikowske was hammered for not having yet produced the drug-control strategy that his office was charged with releasing by Feb. 1. Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske expects an event with Obama in the next two weeks. “It’s a priority, but there are a lot of priorities around here,” says a senior administration official. The White House removed the czar’s position from the cabinet and told him to report to a deputy to Vice President Biden. The Obama budget proposal devotes 64 percent of the $15.5 billion for anti-drug spending to law enforcement and interdiction rather than treatment and prevention–about the same percentage allotted under George W. Bush.